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2015 Books for a Better World Newsletter

Books for a Better World is driven by the knowledge that literacy can change lives. Witnessing the joy our book deliveries bring is a privilege that motivates us further. We would like to dedicate this newsletter to a few spectacular people who make us want to do even more. They have all shown us what can be accomplished by an individual who is determined to make a difference. We hope the stories of these Education inspire you as well. Every donation helps. Every donation changes lives.
 

Education Hero: Hector Mencia 
- by Lisa Schuring

Fifty-year-old Hector Mencia grew up in a large family living in a champa, a small home made of sticks and mud, surrounded by coffee and plantain fields in the lush mountains above La Libertad, Honduras. Hector loved learning and was determined to go to elementary school. Despite the fact that his family, like so many others, lacked the resources, Hector sold bread before and after school to pay the fees. Hector continued his studies at a colegio (high school) by selling rawhide and working in a tannery, all while keeping up with his studies and maintaining excellent grades.
 
After high school, Hector’s passion for education left him longing to study at the University of Honduras. This time, his determination led him to the office of the President of Honduras, Policarpo Paz Garcia. Hector bravely asked him for a scholarship to attend the university. When President Garcia asked the young Hector who had sponsored him and helped him gain access to his office, Hector held out his high school transcripts and responded, “I am sponsoring myself!”

Impressed by his excellent academic record and gumption, the president gave Hector a full scholarship to the university, where he studied early education. Upon graduation, Hector’s family sold bread and other goods in order to buy him a new suit, tie, and shoes. His hard work won him the privilege of teaching third grade for many years, earning an average of $250-$350 a month, a typical teacher salary in Honduras.
 
Currently, Hector and his wife Carmen, a kindergarten director, work together with many organizations to advocate for children, teachers and education. Traveling rugged and remote mountain roads by motorcycle, Hector visits several one-room schools a day, tirelessly working to mentor, train and support the teachers and their students.
 
He loves engaging the children with animated storytelling and book readings, hoping to spark in them a love of books and literacy. Hector’s dedicated service has left a positive impact on countless children, families, and teachers in his community and country. Hector is a true Education Hero.


It’s Not Always Easy
- by Alice Finn Gartell

During 2015, BBW travel volunteers delivered thousands of books to rural schools in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. As always, it was very rewarding, but not always easy.
 
Our volunteers rode in the back of a rickety truck on curvy, bumpy dirt roads. They traveled in crowded buses with chickens, piglets, and an occasional baby plopped in their laps. They even delivered on horseback. Some of these villages had no electricity, but now they have books!

Flexibility was required. After traveling all the way to Central America from the U.S., a few volunteers discovered the government unexpectedly closed all the public schools for a week. At other times, the volunteers read with students on the side of the road when a school let out early or started late.
 
The most inspirational Education Heroes were the dedicated teachers working under very difficult conditions with few resources. Because of the distance, a few teachers stayed with local families during the week and only went home on weekends. Many had a long commute, involving several bus rides, and then a steep climb up a muddy dirt path.
 
Some schools without electricity were very dark on cloudy days. Those with tin roofs were very noisy in the frequent tropical rain. Most of the schools had no or very few storybooks prior to our visits. One teacher had been teaching 14 years and was overwhelmed at receiving the first storybooks she had ever had for her class. All were grateful for the pens, pencils and crayons we brought.
 
Magic happens for children when interesting books about dinosaurs, Curious George, and fairy tales are combined with dedicated teachers.Thank you for helping these Education Heroes and their students have access to books!


Education Heroes: Lisa Schuring & Suzanne Perkett

Two of our Education Heroes are now new members of of our Board of Directors. This year, both of these remarkable women took it upon themselves to raise much needed money for Books for a Better World. Both were successful beyond their wildest dreams.


Lisa Schuring, an ESL Technician at Sage Creek Elementary in Utah, created a “Walk for Wishes” fundraiser, in which she inspired students to obtain pledges for laps around their school. With an initial goal of raising $350 to fund a library, Lisa’s enthusiasm spread to the entire community.
 
The students raised over $2,800 and prompted the local Walmart to contribute $5,000. Lisa also traveled to Honduras and Nicaragua to deliver books, sharing photos of the fundraiser with students in Central America, allowing them to connect with US students back home.


 

New board member Suzanne Perkett worked fundraising magic in her hometown of Evansville, Indiana. Her work as one of our travel volunteers spurred Altrusa International, a service organization that emphasizes literacy, to donate the proceeds from their spring style show to BBW.

Suzanne also spoke at the event, inspiring the 100 women present, with her stories of the joy of bringing books in Spanish to students of Central America. The event raised $3,000 for our grateful organization.
 


We honor everything these women have done to give students access to the wonder, comfort and knowledge that can be found inside a good book!